With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I would introduce you to my biggest fan… Her name is Laurie and she’s my Mum! Some of you met Laurie last year when I forced her to come on my LIVE with me but since we have so many new island girls in our community these days, I wanted to tell (some of) her story.
(That time we both showed up in the same top ~ circa 2023)
Laurie grew up in Wollongong, on the East Coast of Australia. She was always tall and gorgeous but suffered from insecurities as so many of the girls her age were “little and cute”. She never loved school, so at 15, Laurie left school to start an apprenticeship in hairdressing. She loved the social side of hairdressing, making others feel beautiful and confident was a skill that came naturally to her. After meeting my Dad at 18, they were quickly engaged to get married. And as if exactly by the rhyme: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Laurie with a baby carriage.” I was born when Laurie was at the tender age of 21.
(Mum, Dad and Baby Me ~ circa 1972)
My sister Cristi was born when I was almost 4 and we spent our early childhood growing up in Wollongong, close to all of our family: both sets of grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and plenty of cousins around our same ages. When I was 7 years old, my Mum and Dad took us on a trip to Fiji to visit my Aunty Jane, who had met and married an intrepid surfer guy who was sailing around the Pacific Islands on a yacht that he and a bunch of his mates had built in Perth, Western Australia. And after that trip, my Dad came home absolutely obsessing over buying a boat. He bought a small “trailer sailor” and as a family, we spent every weekend sailing, racing, and exploring the local lakes & rivers. Here I am (stylish as ever) steering that first boat.
(Me at the Helm ~ circa 1978)
As my Mum and Dad became increasingly in love with sailing, they took my sister and me out of school for 3 months during winter and drove north to explore the Great Barrier Reef. We would drive for 3 days straight: Mum, Dad, 2 kids, our dog Cindy, and our canary "Pretty Boy", with our boat Kimisti (Kim + Cristi) hitched to the back all the way from southern New South Wales to the Northern coast of Australia. They did this for a few years in a row until they decided it would be best to just move north and settle somewhere halfway between family and the islands they had fell in love with exploring.
(Mum, Cristi and I on "Kimisti" ~ circa 1978)
Although a little nervous about having 2 small kids on a boat, Laurie enjoyed the sailing lifestyle and exploring the Whitsunday Islands whenever they could. But what Laurie loved, even more, was basketball. Although not having the opportunity to play sports growing up, as soon as she learned to drive, Laurie started playing basketball and quickly realized that it was her passion. Wherever they moved, whatever new business venture they took on, Laurie always felt at home in the stadium. The way height and team were celebrated felt good to Laurie and being a tall girl was no longer something to be insecure about. She was officially obsessed.
(Me, Cristi and Pretty Boy on Kimisti ~ circa 1978)
Being a girl mum, Laurie always encouraged my sisters and me to stand up tall, “be proud of your beautiful selves” and above all else, "don't get married young, go and travel the world first”.... so that's exactly what we all did. (Newsflash: I don’t think she ever expected us to travel quite so far and for as long).
When Laurie was 36 (I was 14 and my sister Cristi was 10), she fell pregnant with our surprise baby sister Amy. Laurie was older, wiser, and self-proclaimed “a very different mother”. She will often say how amazed she is that although her mothering style was completely contrasting from when she was in her early 20’s, to her late 30s, and yet all three of us sisters turned out “quite similar, actually”.
As if life moved in 10-year cycles when Amy was 6, they moved again to Coffs Harbour, on the mid-north coast. With sailing no longer a priority in their lives, they were ready for a new business challenge and bought a large caravan park in which they invested their hearts and souls into creating a stunning riverside tourist destination.
Laurie has always been incredibly hard-working and passionate in everything that she puts her heart into, and her dedication to coaching basketball is a true example of that. When Laurie had a serious knee injury, she was forced to stop playing but her love of the game was unwavering. Whilst she had always volunteered to coach our childhood teams, Laurie then decided to throw all her passion and energy into coaching other kids in both school and representative basketball. She has now dedicated more than 30 years of her life to coaching for Coffs Harbour Basketball and has had an impact on the lives of thousands of kids. Why? “I don’t know, I just love seeing kids get better, building self esteem, and keeping them out of trouble. The basketball family spreads far and wide, and I am just proud to be a part of it and hope to make a difference.”
(Granny in her element at the basketball stadium ~ circa recent years)
Known across basketball Australia as “Granny”, Laurie truly has made that difference on so many young players (I’m not exaggerating, there are Olympic players that call her Granny too).
(Granny with Granddaughter Isla & friends at State Championships ~ circa 2022)
(Granny days with my kids ~ circa 2015)
So, what’s Laurie up to these days? Laurie continues to coach the Under 12’s Boys Division 2 representative team for Coffs Harbour basketball. She is also planning a trip to Madrid this year to watch her granddaughter (and up-and-coming basketball superstar) Isla play for her Country in the Worlds U19 Championship. Despite her busy schedule, Laurie continues to be an incredible daughter, caring for my Grandma who is in her 90’s. And Laurie also makes time for her other grandkids who don’t play basketball: taking them to the movies or on weekend trips or cheering them on at dance recitals.
Her family truly is her biggest joy ❤️
(Laurie's beloved grandbabies ~ circa 2022)
(My Mum and her girls ~ circa 2013)
A few words about my mum: Life doesn't come with a manual—it comes with a mother and I am so grateful for mine... My mum is the truest example of pure, unwavering love that there is. Her family is everything to her and she is just the best mum and Granny that there is. Her 8 grandkids are her absolute pride and joy, and not a moment goes by that she isn’t training them, hanging out with them, or bragging about them to others. Mum, you are the glue that keeps us all together as a family and we love you more than you know!! Happy Mother’s Day.
PS. It’s also my Mums birthday on May 12th, so let’s all say a big hip hip hooray for her… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANNY!!
I hope you enjoyed this short memoir about my Mum. I also want to acknowledge that Mothers Day is not always a happy day for everyone in the world. Holding space in my heart for all of our island girls who are struggling at this time and sending so much love your way.